LAS ANOD — 38 people were killed and scores wounded when clashes broke out on Thursday afternoon (local time) between Somaliland forces and pro-separatist tribal militia in the border town of Buhoodle, one of the last disputed towns in the south of the country.

Tribal militia loyal to neighboring Somalia’s former Prime Minister, Ali Khalif Galayr, attacked Somaliland forces in the village of Sool-Jogto, less than 10-km east of Buhoodle city, around 3:30 PM on Thursday. The war lasted several hours well into the night. Eyewitnesses in Buhoodle said at least 35 fighters were killed from the tribal militia and the injuries ran well over twenty in their deadliest day yet.

A spokesman for the Somaliland army said his men lost three soldiers and six others were wounded. Speaking from the village of Saleban Oday, he added they were pursuing the militia and they will not tolerate them. He insisted that Somaliland security was the highest priority and the wounded soldiers were receiving medical care in Qori-Lugud.

The general Secretary of Somaliland’s Ministry of Information, Faisal Ali Sheikh Mohamed blamed the violence on Ali Khalif Galayr and his G9 group. He said the group wants to cause much destruction and eventually destabilize the entire region.

Residents of Buhoodle city, a town near the Ethiopian border, said Ali Khalif arrived in the town on Thursday but he has since fled to an unknown location with his main followers.

Somaliland authority said it will maintain its territorial integrity and flush out any separatists, terrorists, pirates and extremist elements.

Recently a tribal separatist militia held a meeting in the historical town of Taleeh, once the base of Sayid Abdullah Hassan, a religious fanatic and the late 19th century version of Osama bin Ladden, in which they declared the formation of a semi-autonomous state. The President Ahmed Silanyo said his government will not tolerate the disintegration of Somaliland during an emergency meeting of both Houses of parliament. An army unit was sent to the nearby town of Buhoodle and the conference in Taleeh came to an end.

The president reaffirmed his commitment to stability, development and peace and for the second time offered amnesty to the SSC militia and urged them to join hands in the struggle to move forward. The leader of the group, Suleiman Essa Ahmed (Hagal Tosiye) of Columbus, Ohio, told the BBC Somali-Services on Thursday that he welcomes President Silanyo’s proposal for peace talks. He also admitted that the Taleeh conference was hijacked by opportunist groups and that it no longer served the interest of the Dhulbahante clan. He pointed his fingers at the former Somali Prime Minister, Ali Khalif Galayr and his so called G9 group. He also expressed his strong dislike for the chosen name for the ‘new semi-autonomous state’ namely Khaatumo State. The residents in the region have adopted to call the state instead ‘Khaatumo Seeg’.

It later became clear some of the participants of the conference were in favor of SSC state while others wanted Darwiishland. After a deep disagreement some of the participants fled back to Garowe, the capital of Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Puntland while others left the country.

Somaliland is a former British protectorate that gained its independence in June 1960 but voluntarily unified with its southern neighbor few days later to form what was known as the Somali Republic. After years of armed struggle with Somalia that left more than 50, 000 civilians dead, it reinstated its independence in 1991 but has since failed to gain international recognition.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012